The Mental Health Association of New Jersey in Ocean County unveils a recovery peer outreach support team to try and help addicts over 18-year of age turn the tide to a healthier life.

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The peer outreach support team is a group of individuals who've been in the shoes of the person they're coaching and want to give back.

"An individual can come into our facility and request one-on-one services with someone that has had similar experiences to them," said Michelle Green Ferrante, Program Director for Ocean Counties Mental Health Association.

Those individuals are then matched with the peer who can best help them recover.

"Age is definitely a consideration...usually male-to-male and female-to-female, but also previous experiences," said Ferrante.

She says sometimes they're matched with a peer who overcame similar obstacles themselves.

The heroin and opioid epidemic comes face-to-face with the Mental Health Association of New Jersey and their recovery peer outreach support team.

Recovery Care Manager for the Mental Health Association in Ocean County, Rachel O'Dea says help begins and ends with the 12-step program.

"Getting help with socialization which is a key factor in obtaining wellness, especially in recovery," said O'Dea.

She adds and addicts circle of friends and support circles often will change while they're battling the disease of addiction and it scares them, so the peer support team is there to help them re-acclimate to social norms.

"They help with specific goals people coming in have in mind," said O'Dea. "Whether that's re-entering the community or obtaining employment. It's certain things like that where they'll come up with steps in order to help them obtain the goals they're looking to achieve."

The peer outreach support team is a group of about 10 individuals who are recovering addicts themselves and want to whole-heartedly help those currently battling it themselves.

O'Dea says addicts come in usually with a list of goals they hope to achieve through this program.

"It's all person centered," said O'Dea. "It's what they think is going to work for them with the guidance of peers."

The peer outreach support team must undergo about 145-hours of training before working with these individuals.

They also look to expand their program and education outreach county wide explains Ferrante.

"We're actually just now going to be in the library in Manahawkin and share our services," said Ferrante. "We're going to go out there and try to share our services and hope at some point we can start our support groups at the double trouble meetings."

They're now located at 25 South Shore Drive in Toms River with an open house coming up on May 17 where you can visit with them in person and learn more.

The event will run from 3-7 pm on the 17 and provide you with all the information you need on the programs they run.

"All staff will be on hand to explain our services and what they do specifically," said O'Dea. "It's open to the community so we're hoping that individuals that are seeking help will get a good overview of what services we have to offer this community."

If you have any questions before or after the open house, you can contact Ferrante via email or by calling 732-914-1546.

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